Italian Italian - Common Mistakes Recurring Mistakes Made By English Speakers

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Monday 13th of June 2005 01:23:55 AM
Italian - common mistakes: Hi everyone, :)
I have noticed that English speakers when writing in Italian, often make similar mistakes, so I thought to start a thread about common mistakes. :D

Here are some:

1. In Italian, subject pronoun is usually omitted.
Though using the subject pronoun is not really wrong, it sounds a bit unusual.
E.g. an italian speaker would say: Ho 25 anni e abito negli Stati Uniti, not Io ho 25 anni e io abito negli Stati Uniti.

2. Idioms
To need something in italian translates as avere bisogno di qualcosa
I need = Ho bisogno (not Io bisogna)

In certain expressions, the verb to be translates as stare instead of “essere”.
I am well / I am bad = Sto bene/sto male (not Sono bene/sono male)

Present progressive in italian is made with stare + gerund.
I am reading a book = Sto leggendo un libro (not Sono leggendo un libro)

In certain expressions, the verb to be translates as avere instead of essere.
I am 25 (year-old) = Ho 25 anni (not Io sono 25 anni)

The preposition in is often translated as a
I live in Rome = Vivo a Roma (not Io vivo in Roma)


I'll post more in the next days


Ciao :)


Saturday 23rd of July 2005 10:25:22 AM
Present Progressive - Question: Carla:

This is very helpful. I have a question about the present progressive. You say:
Present progressive in italian is made with stare + gerund.
I am reading a book = Sto leggendo un libro (not Sono leggendo un libro)

I'm a little confused about present progressive in Italian. I am reading a self-study book (Italian Made Simple) that says to use the present tense in Italian for present progressive. It gives the example (io ballo = I am dancing). Should this be Sto ballando instead? I am hoping that this is the case. I find it confusing that Io ballo can mean both I dance and I am dancing! Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Saturday 23rd of July 2005 06:52:15 PM
It seems italian doesn't use the progressive tense to the degree english does.

a simple statement of fact is present tense: io ballo

an ongoing act at the point of conversation may be progressive: pronto, che fai ora? sto ballando...

you can also use just the progressive without stare in clauses:

while dancing, she sees her friend: ballando, lei vede la sua amica


Saturday 23rd of July 2005 08:48:28 PM
thanks jeff: jeff - thanks for the clarification. so, it sounds like both options are OK. i'm very new to italian but it seems that in many cases context is super important. obviously this is the case with all languages but it seems more so with italian to me than english. i appreciate your comments!


Saturday 23rd of July 2005 09:32:37 PM
Hi Stephen,
welcome to Phrasebase :)

In fact in Italian we often use the present tense with a progressive meaning.
The following sentences are both correct and have the same meaning:

Che fai? Leggo un libro / Che stai facendo? Sto leggendo un libro.
Dove vai? Vado da un amico / Dove stai andando? Sto andando da un amico.


carla ;)

Sunday 24th of July 2005 02:51:56 AM
Grazie!: Carla,

Grazie! OK this makes sense to me. It all depends on the context. But present and present progressive are both correct.


Tuesday 26th of July 2005 09:57:24 AM
N uovo membro: Ciao tutti,
Mi chiamo Cary e sono un'americano. Sono stato a Sicilia per tre anni quando ho fatto il servizio military (fu marinaio) a Sigonella, vicino di Catania. Ho imparato italiano perche penso e' la piu' bellissima lingua del mondo. Gli italiani sono amichevoli, e amano la dolce vita!.

Carla, voglio chiedere come si usano i verbi nel "past tense" in italiano.

What is the difference in using: io sono andato or when do you use: andato / andavo
chiesto / chiedevo
parlato / parlavo..

I noticed they use the "parlavo" tense more in publications such as books, is it ever used in conversation. And I would love to hear any suggestions, if I have made a mistake in my sentences above.

"My quote", God was in a great mood when he created Italian men!

Ciao a presto

I guess my question is

Wednesday 27th of July 2005 04:54:18 AM
Hi Cary,
Welcome to Phrasebase! :) :)

I have already answered a question about Italian past tenses. Please have a look at the topic "Italian questions - beginners" at I will post soon some further explanations.

Your italian is fairly good, there are only a few mistakes:

1) Sono stato a Sicilia => Sono stato in Sicilia
we use "a" with city names, e.g. "sono stato a Roma" and "in" with district names or countries ("in Sicilia", "in Italia"...)
2)quando ho fatto il servizio military (fu marinaio) => quando ho fatto il servizio militare (ero marinaio) - imperfetto is better here
3)vicino di Catania => vicino Catania or vicino a Catania
4)penso e' => penso che sia (subjunctive after pensare)
5)la piu' bellissima lingua del mondo => la più bella lingua del mondo or una lingua bellissima
bella=adjective, più bella = comparative, bellissima = superlative. You mixed up comparative and superlative :)

Ciao, a presto ;)

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